Readers get an inside look at the reality of Caribbean culture in “How to Love a Jamaican,” a collection of stories written from the perspective of immigrants to the Islands and the difficulties they face.
Penguin Random House Publishing describes the fictional series as an emotional journey of “tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret.”
“Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life,” the publishing house writes.
In a series of anecdotes, Jamaican-born Alexia Authors brings to life a set of characters which defy the popularized stereotypes born from a tangle of dreadlocks, palm trees, and reggae tunes.
The author illustrates the challenges which accompany families across the Caribbean as well as the strong cultural roots present in their day to day lives. From first generation immigrants struggling with feelings of nostalgia to the family members left behind longing for adventure and change, the Caribbean native sweeps her reader into the world of a modern day Jamaican.
In a literary review, Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Arthurs’ collection of short stories tackles the immigrant experience, exploring it through the prism of family.”
Throughout the various titles, Arthurs, who arrived in the United States at age 12, subtly reflects her own struggles with identity and feelings of displacement both abroad and in her native country.
In an interview with Pan Macmillan, she explained, “Leaving is a transition I’m still somehow not used to. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s less about leaving Jamaica, and more about how leaving fractured my family. Those questions of what ifs.
“The year I was twenty-four is the year I lived as many years in the U.S. as I’d lived in Jamaica. I liked the balance – twelve years here, twelve years there. An equation: Jamaican-American. Now that I’ve lived more years here, I can’t help feeling that a part of me is being taken from me,” the author said.
After taking the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for the short story “Bad Behavior”, “How to Love a Jamaican,” is sure to create some buzz this season amid literary communities.